Proposition 37, a citizen’s initiative on the November 6 ballot in California, would mandate clear labeling of genetically engineered (GE) ingredients on food packages. It has become a battleground pitting consumer and farmer advocates against multi-billion-dollar agribusiness corporations.    

Recent polling indicates almost 70% of citizens support informational labeling. And a flood of new contributions to fight the measure has rolled in from the biotechnology industry and food manufacturers, totaling over $23 million, according to the California Secretary of State. This dwarfs the approximately $3 million contributed by proponents of GE labeling.

“Consumers might be surprised to find out that brands hiding under ‘natural’ façades are in fact owned by multi-billion-dollar corporations that are contributing bushel baskets of cash to defeating Proposition 37,” says Charlotte Vallaeys, Director of Farm and Food Policy at The Cornucopia Institute.

“If the food and biotech industries are so proud of their pervasive genetically manipulated crops, why are they so afraid, and so desperately opposed to labeling it?” asked Arran Stephens, founder of Nature’s Path, North America’s largest certified organic cereal and granola brand with manufacturing plants in the United States and Canada.

See the Proposition 37 funding guide and read more from The Cornucopia Institute at

In an era of rising food prices and economic strains that have put one in four people on federal nutrition assistance, nearly all Americans must search for foods that are nutritious and affordable. To ease the pressure, Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) researchers created “Good Food on a Tight Budget,” a science-based shopping guide of the top 100 foods that are healthy, cheap, clean, and green.

Inside the easy-to-use guide, shoppers will find lists of foods that give consumers the biggest nutritional bang for their buck, simple tips for eating well, tasty recipes for meals and snacks, and easy tools for tracking food prices and preparing and planning meals at home. In collaboration with Chef Ann Cooper, the guide provides 15 delicious low-cost recipes that average less than $1 a serving.

EWG’s guide underscores that home cooking is the best way to save money and enjoy good food. The best strategy, it says, is to cook and freeze large batches of healthy foods such as soup and turkey chili. Another winning strategy: buying rice, beans and other dry or frozen staples in bulk from warehouse stores and a growing number of local markets.

To view the guide and get more helpful tips from EWG, click on

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) has selected seven partner sites to implement the AmeriCorps Farm to School Program in the 2012-2013 school year. These sites will work to decrease childhood obesity by promoting healthy eating habits in students and increasing access to local foods in schools.

Two new sites will join the program this school year, Brown County’s Live54218 and Milwaukee’s Growing Power. Five sites returning to the program include: REAP Food Group, University of Wisconsin-Extension Crawford County, Viroqua School District, Spooner School District, and a partnership between the Ashland, Washburn and Bayfield School Districts.

With addition of the new sites, this year’s AmeriCorps Farm to School program will reach an estimated 10,000 students. Each site will be provided at minimum two half-time AmeriCorps members. One member will focus on community outreach, identifying and addressing hurdles for local food procurement. The second member will focus on nutrition education, working to develop and implement curriculum and wellness plans to teach students about local food options.

For additional information on the AmeriCorps Farm to School Program, contact DATCP’s Camilla Vargas, the program manager, at 608-224-5017 or

Madison’s 2012 Mayor’s Neighborhood Conference
The City of Madison is hosting a citywide Neighborhood Conference on Saturday, October 13th, Monona Terrace Community & Convention Center, from 8:00 – 4:00 pm.

The 2012 Mayor’s Neighborhood Conference will be a dynamic event for community leaders to share, network, and take steps to ignite ideas within our extensive networks of neighborhoods. The full-day event will feature hands-on workshops covering neighborhood organizing, neighborhood-based projects, and ways to connect in the community. Participants will have the opportunity to network with neighborhood leaders, governmental staff, and local resource representatives.

Fred Kent, President, Project for Public Places, will be the keynote speaker and workshop presenter at the conference due to the generous contribution from Madison Gas & Electric Company. Fred will talk about the “Power of 10” in Placemaking. At the core of this concept is the idea that any great place itself needs to offer at least 10 things to do or 10 reasons to be there. Madison neighborhoods already offer unique experiences but this is a forum at which we can learn about other placemaking opportunities involved in the Power of 10.

Mark your calendars to attend the citywide neighborhood conference scheduled for Saturday, October 13. Neighborhood information is available at Contact Linda Horvath, Planning Division, at or 608-267-1131 with questions.  

As they return to school, students will get twice the amount of vegetables and fruits on their meal trays, as well as more whole grains, and less salt and unhealthy fats. The updated school meal standards, unveiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in January, have been highly praised by health and education groups, including the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). The standards set calorie maximums for the first time and lower calorie minimums to better ensure that school meals address obesity, as well as hunger.

Parents can help by reinforcing healthy eating at home, and encouraging their children to try the new menu options, says CSPI. Teachers can try the new school lunches and speak supportively about them with students. School administrators can support the program by showing leadership and support for the programs and help ensure the new standards are fully implemented. State child nutrition programs can continue to support school efforts and provide ideas for menus and recipes. And companies can produce products with more whole grains and less salt.

The updates to school meals were required by Congress in the bipartisan Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law in late 2010. The law also provides additional funding for school meals through several provisions, including the first increase in reimbursement rates (above inflation) in years and reasonable pricing requirements for school lunches and a la carte items. Beginning October 1, schools will be eligible to receive an additional six cents for each healthy lunch they serve.
For more from CSPI, see

Fermentation Fest